Big Finish: Doctor Who - AFTER THE DALEKS Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

Home Top Ad

Post Top Ad

Big Finish: Doctor Who - AFTER THE DALEKS Review

Tony’s rebuilding.
One of Doctor Who’s first big shocks came at the end of the second, and much more ambitious Dalek story, The Dalek Invasion Of Earth.

That story saw the popular pepperpots from Skaro leap forward in their villainy and conquer the Earth. It was relatively gritty by early Doctor Who standards, with quite a high body count, and at the end, a group of London rebels barely defeated the alien menace.

And then, seemingly out of nowhere, the Doctor locked the doors of the Tardis on his granddaughter Susan, the unearthly child who had drawn her teachers – and us, the viewers - into an adventure in time and space. He was convinced she loved the rugged rebel, David Campbell, and knew she would never leave the Tardis on her own, so he locked her out supposedly for her own good, so she could follow her hearts and start a new life with Campbell and his friends.

It’s always been an odd moment, covered superbly by a speech from William Hartnell’s Doctor. And it’s a moment that’s been talked over at some length in Big Finish audios with Susan (Carole Ann Ford) and Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) – especially since Susan introduced her grandfather to his great grandson, Alex.

But this Early Adventure from Roland Moore goes where angels fear to tread – it takes us into the immediate aftermath of the Dalek invasion, with Susan, David and their surviving friends trying to rebuild the Earth in something like a democratic way after ten years of Dalek enslavement. But it also deals with Susan’s feelings – “left behind because she wouldn’t leave” is the kind way to describe what happened to her. Abandoned on a shattered planet and left to make a relationship her grandfather decreed was good for her is another, and throughout After The Daleks, both Susan and David (Sean Biggerstaff) have to negotiate the minefield of their feelings, and especially Susan’s homesickness for the stars and the wider universe.

But the story’s not all emotional angst and relationship boundaries – there’s plenty of post-Dalek politics to deal with too, as the question of who should lead a rebuilding Britain becomes a flashpoint between potential democratic rule and cynical exploitation. There’s also a whole side story with Jenny Chaplin (who starred without a surname in the original Dalek Invasion of Earth, and is played here by Lucy Briers, daughter of Ann Davies, who played the role in that story), searching for her brother, Victor (Oli Higginson), who’s been missing for almost the whole decade of the Dalek invasion.

There’s a damaged Dalek, there’s some Dalek-Killer action, and there’s a search both for Victor and for a dangerous creature, seemingly raised by the Daleks for reasons of their own. Robomen, suppressed memories, and humans being humanly awful to one another, as well as a whole new Dalek ship more deadly than any saucer – oh, it’s busy, this story.

The point about the busyness though is that Roland Moore crams it full of authentic Sixties Terry Nation flavour. It’s very distinctly a Nation post-Dalek Earth, rather than, say, a follow-on Doctor Who story. In fact, the Doctor is very noticeable by his absolute absence, the void he leaves in Susan’s life is like a wound that she needs to heal one day at a time, through both her life with other people, and the fight to put the Earth back on a track that – whether it’s right or not – is at least heading in a progressive direction.

Given that the Daleks themselves are necessarily MOSTLY absent too, you need a great villain in a story like that to give it an extra kick of jeopardy and motive power, and here, that villain is the suitably evil-sounding Marcus Bray, played with torture-happy aplomb by Jonathan Guy Lewis. There’s little by way of emotional deception about Bray – a former governor under the Dalek occupation, he’s the only one of their lackeys to survive their occupation. That tells you something about his nature, and he goes on to openly manipulate the public sentiment – at first, in clever ways, but then in more and more insidious ways.

When Susan is drawn to stand against him in the quest for a leader of the re-awakening Britain, Bray has no qualms in starting a whispering campaign about her alien origins (something familiar from our own politics, albeit alien in a smaller sense), and it takes a classic piece of dramatic subterfuge to push him to the brink.

For a while though, as Bray takes control of the hearts of minds of the people, there’s a sense of a Britain teetering on the brink. As Susan says at one point in the drama, “I thought once the Daleks left, things would be BETTER!” – only to run into David’s reality check: “People will still be people.”

That’s the true nature of the storytelling pulse in After The Daleks – what does it MEAN to be “people”? After you’ve been brutalised for a generation, had everything taken away from you, fought and killed and died for the dream of something better, what does being people look like? From a Roboman trying to piece together his past, before and during the Daleks, to the nature of politics in a post-Dalek world, to whether or not a brief attraction between a rebel and an unearthly child can become anything of real human value, it’s a question re-stated in subtle iterations throughout the story.

Roland Moore puts us through a properly Nation wringer in this story, but ends with a re-statement of Susan’s personality, her choices, and in a sense, her final freedom from her grandfather. She’s no longer an unearthly child by the end of this story – she’s a woman in a world that needs everyone to work together as much as they can. She’s aware that won’t always happen, but having found herself and the things that matter most to her, she’s not just left behind anymore. She chooses to stay, even when given the opportunity to leave.

When the Daleks are beaten, Susan Foreman gets stranded on the shattered Earth. With After the Daleks, Roland Moore shows us why she stays, and who Susan Foreman becomes next.

Doctor Who: After the Daleks is exclusively available to buy from the Big Finish website until 30 September 2021, and on general sale after this date.

Tony lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who, Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the 70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By day, he runs an editing house, largely as an excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book. With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad